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Mason contractors and specifiers from across the country converged on the Las Vegas scene for the MCAA Masonry Showcase, co-located with the CONSTRUCT AMERICATM show, March 28-31. The community and networking created with the two groups proved to once again be a great success, as specifiers got the opportunity for a second year to see the masonry industry in action through educational sessions, as well as the International Masonry Skills Challenge and Fastest Trowel on the Block competitions.

The following are just a few of the events that MCAA members enjoyed during the four-day event:

news for Mason contractors

Annual Meeting
During the MCAA Annual Meeting on Tuesday afternoon, MCAA's officers gave updates on the Association's achievements made during the past year. Here are a few of the items discussed:

  • The successful exemption of Portland cement in the OSHA hexavalent chromium standard;

  • The continued fight against the passage of a devastating silica standard;

  • The combined effort with the Laborers Union to introduce a very successful training program to educate OSHA office and field personnel on masonry best practices;

  • The increased presence with Congressional leaders in an effort to promote pro-masonry legislation;

  • The extensive push to bring the entire masonry industry together, both at the national and local level, to better fight other competitive building systems;

  • The leadership in scheduling this year's joint Masonry Industry Legislative Conference and next year's Masonry Showcase side-by-side with the National Concrete Masonry Association's show;

  • The implementation of the Joint Workforce Development Committee;

news for Mason contractors

news for Mason contractors

news for Mason contractors

news for Mason contractors
And much more.

MCAA also made a formal introduction of the new MCAA Premier Suppliers Program, which recognizes and rewards the industry suppliers that consistently support the efforts of the MCAA. The top three suppliers in the program were recognized as The Quikrete Companies, Non-Stop Scaffolding and Fraco. Jeff Leonard, Quikrete's vice president of bulk materials, accepted the "Supplier of the Year" award for Quikrete.

G. Alan Griffin, MCAA's past president, presented the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award to John Spencer, owner of Spencer Brickwork Inc. of St. Louis, Mo., for his long-time service to the Association and the masonry industry. After a long standing ovation and many handshakes all the way to the podium, Spencer gave a short, humble speech, noting his great appreciation in receiving the honor.

Awards were also presented to retiring Regional Vice Presidents Edgar Boettcher III of Edgar Boettcher Mason Contractor Inc., Traverse City, Mich., and Jim Hensley Sr. of DBM / Hatch Inc., La Verne, Calif.

Last but not least, the ballot of the 2006-2008 MCAA officers was approved. The MCAA officers are:

Frank Campitelli
Baltimore Masonry Corporation
Eldersburg, Md.

Vice President
Tom Daniel
GBC Concrete and Masonry Construction Inc.,
Lake Elsinore, Calif.

Mackie Bounds
Brazos Masonry, Inc.,
Waco, Texas

John Smith Jr.
John J. Smith Masonry Co.,
St. Louis, Mo.

news for Mason contractors

Further information, including committee and regional reports, can be viewed in the "Members Only" section of the MCAA website at www.masoncontractors.org.

news for Mason contractorsThe MAC PAC fundraiser reception was an excellent opportunity for MCAA members, officers and staff to gather for networking and a good cause. Contributions raised at the event went directly to the MCA PAC fund, which supports pro-masonry candidates in the 2006 elections. With such a variety of important issues being brought to light this year — such as immigration, OSHA, tort and tax reform; elimination of the death tax; and Social Security and Association Health Plan legislation — it's more important than ever for members to support MAC PAC.

news for Mason contractorsIt was also a great opportunity for members to meet Jessica Johnson Bennett, MCAA's new director of Government Affairs, who spoke earlier in the day at the Annual Meeting about the Association's strategies and goals for the coming year.

Opening Session
On Wednesday morning, MCAA hosted the opening session breakfast at the grand Venetian Hotel. Griffin officially welcomed attendees to the 56th annual convention and started the morning's activities by giving his State of the Association address (see April 2006, pg. 22).

news for Mason contractors

news for Mason contractors
Then, Jim Morris — known as the "Oldest Rookie" in Major League Baseball (MLB) — entertained guests with inspirational stories of his transformation from a relatively unknown high school baseball coach in his late thirties into a MLB pitcher capable of throwing 98-mph fastballs.

A role model to millions, he spoke of how his grandfather inspired him at an early age. Morris recalled how his grandfather once said to him, "If there's a door of opportunity, you don't walk through it, you run through it." He said that, after maturing, he truly understood his grandfather's statement that you shouldn't be afraid to chase a dream, even if everyone else thinks what you're doing is impossible.

In closing he said, whether it's running a masonry business or chasing a lifelong dream, "We have to be able to rise up to meet the challenges."

news for Mason contractors

Education Sessions & Seminars
One of the nice things about co-locating with other associations is you get to share educational sessions and seminars at no extra cost. MCAA members could not only attend any of the 11 educational sessions and two seminars provided by MCAA, but they could also sit in on any of the 81 professional classes sponsored by the CSI. As a double bonus, the same was true for CSI members, and many of them took part in MCAA's programs, furthering their education in the field of masonry.

news for Mason contractorsAmong the many sessions provided over the three days was the "Flashing Materials Comparison" and "Preventing and Handling Efflorescence" by Edgar Glock Jr., AIA/CSI, director of architecture for the Masonry Institute of St. Louis; "Comparative Cost of Masonry and Lifecycle Costing" and "Fire Resistance of Masonry Assemblies" by Tony Darkangelo, director of marketing for the Masonry Institute of Michigan; and "Non-destructive Test Methods for Masonry" and "Commercial Masonry Problems and Solutions" by Andy Dalrymple, principal at WDP & Associates.

Attendees also had the opportunity to take the "Masonry Foreman Development Course" or the "Masonry Estimating Seminar."

Masonry Showcase
More than 60 vendors exhibited their masonry products, equipment and services, offering something for everyone. Contractors and exhibitors alike were very pleased with the Masonry Showcase experience, and smiles were seen all around.

Some of the new items exhibited during the Masonry Showcase and other spring construction shows can be found on page 44.

International Excellence in Masonry Awards
Following breakfast and great conversation, the convention attendees settled down for the multimedia presentation announcing the winners for the 2006 International Excellence in Masonry Awards (see April 2006, pg. 52).

 As well as getting the opportunity to view the extraordinary work completed by members from across the country, attendees also got the chance to vote on their favorite project. Along with winning the first-place award in the Government/Institutional category, Lucia Inc., with architects Michael Graves & Associates and Pierce Goodwin Alexander & Linville, received the People's Choice Award for their work on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston branch.

International Masonry Skills Challenge

At the 2006 International Masonry Skills Challenge, 22 of the top apprentices across the nation showed their stuff for MCAA and CSI attendees, proving that the masonry industry's skilled workforce is alive and well.

The top-placing contestants for each skill level were:

First Place
Daniel Sikorski, District Council Training Center, Addison, Ill.

Second Place
Elizabeth Cleckley, Baltimore Masonry, Eldersburg, Md.

Third Place
Terrance Vaughn, Masonry Developers Inc., Rochester, Mich.

First Place
Jason Thrift, Karon Masonry, Beltsville, Md.

Second Place
Renato Ramirez, Brazos Masonry Inc., Waco, Texas

Third Place
Esteban Gonzales, Rhino Masonry, Mesa, Ariz.

First Place
Juan Capitillo, DMG Masonry Inc., Arlington, Texas

 Second Place
Josh Morrison, McGee Brothers Company Inc., Monroe, N.C.

Third Place
Esteban Alarcon, Thomas Masonry, Valley Center, Calif.

All winners received trophies, tool bags and tools, plus first-place winners received $1,000, second-place winners $500, and $250 to third-place winners.

A special thanks to the contest sponsors, who contributed time, materials, labor and/or financial support: Quikrete, Bon Masonry Tools, Buechel Stone Corp., Building Stone Institute, Cemex, Cosella Dorken, EZ Grout Corp., Fraco, Gehl, Lafarge North America, MK Diamond Products Inc., Mortar Net USA Ltd., Non-Stop Scaffolding and Spec Mix Inc.

 Fastest Trowel
The Fastest Trowel showcases the skill of the industry's masons and how important teamwork is in accomplishing a final product. The competition pitted the masons against one another in a show of both speed and craftsmanship. Each contestant's goal is to complete as much of an 18-block-long wall as possible. With the 20-minute time limit that is placed on the contestants, they must make split-second decisions based on the judging criteria. Only those masons who have the skill, confidence and courage to face off with the industry's best are invited to compete.

The top-placing contestants in this year's competition were:

First Place
Mike Canez III
Triple M Masonry Inc., Phoenix

Second Place
Pascal Robertson
Robertson Masonry Inc., Apopka, Fla.

Third Place
Moroni Meja II
Rhino Masonry Inc., Flagstaff, Ariz.

 Winners received trophies, plus first place took home $7,000, second place $2,500, and $1,000 to third place.

Many thanks to the contest sponsor, Quikrete, which also provided the mortar and labor for the contest. Also, thanks to the following companies for contributing materials: Bon Masonry Tools, EZ Grout Corp. and Sterling Handling.

Be sure to mark your calendars for this year's MCAA Midyear Meeting at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii, Nov. 8-12, as well as MCAA's 2007 Masonry Showcase in Orlando, Feb. 22-24. See you there!

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